These helpful tips will trim dollars off your grocery budget.
- Make a grocery list before you go shopping; it will get you out of the store faster and prevent you from spending money on things you don't need.
- Don't shop hungry. If you've had a meal before you go shopping, you'll find it much easier to resist the sweet siren call of ice cream sandwiches and frozen pizza.
- Buy for convenience where it counts. If a packaged item significantly reduces your time and hassle in the kitchen, it may be worth the extra cost. Most of us probably don't feel like butchering large pieces of meat when we just want to grill some chicken breasts, but grating your own cheese or separating snacks into small portion-sized bags is easy enough -- you shouldn't pay a premium to have it done for you.
- Buy in bulk when you can. This depends on the volume of food you eat and the amount of storage space available. Pasta and grains have long shelf lives, while meat and poultry freeze well; don't bother stocking up on produce and dairy products. Look for an inexpensive chest freezer -- the extra freezer space will make long-term food storage much easier.
- Coupons count. A few dollars per week can add up to real savings over the course of a year. File all your coupons in a convenient place where you will remember to bring them to the grocery store. A simple envelope works, or you can create an organized file folder.
- Try store brands. They're usually of the same quality as the brand names -- and you'll pay a lot less for them. You can also save by using a supermarket rewards card. Ask at the register.
- Don't buy what you don't like. If your family won't eat it, don't buy it -- at any price. Even if you're tempted by rock-bottom prices, it isn't a bargain if nobody eats it.
Keeping grocery costs down doesn't stop at the checkout line. Next, find out how to cut costs in the kitchen.